It is a popular Chinese practice in Singapore & Malaysia to toss raw fish salad during Chinese New Year. The tossing of the raw fish salad is called “lo hei” in Cantonese, meaning tossing up good fortune. For the traditionalists, the ritual is of particularly significance on the 7th day of the lunar new year when it is designated “everybody’s birthday”.
The basic ingredients of the raw fish salad aka Lo Hei Yue Sang are raw fish, carrot, radish, pomelo, roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, white pepper & 5 spice powder, fried wonton skins and plum sauce dressing. Each of these ingredients has a special meaning assigned (through the use of homonyms). See below for the tossing sequence and meaning assigned to each of these ingredients.
200g of sashimi grade (very fresh) salmon or tuna (sliced) *
2 cups of finely shredded daikon (white radish) *
2 cups of finely shredded carrot *
1 red pepper (capsicum), sliced thinly
2 cups of finely shredded cucumber
2 cups of finely shredded purple cabbage
½ cup pomelo flesh (or grapefruit) *
1 inch fresh ginger, shredded paper thin
¼ cup of finely shredded sweet pickled ginger
1 red chilli, finely sliced
7 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
4 sprigs of fresh Chinese parsley
¼ cup of chopped roasted peanuts *
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds *
1/2 cup of fried wonton skins (cut into short strips & deep fried) *
1 teaspoon of five spice powder *
1 teaspoon of white pepper *
2/3 cup of plum sauce
½ cup of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of sugar
salt to taste
Marinade for fish: (I don’t marinade my fish, preferring the fresh taste)
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
¼ teaspoon of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of white pepper
1/8 teaspoon of five spice powder
Juice of half lemon and salt to taste
1. In separate bowls, cover all finely shredded vegetable with cold water and set aside.
2. Make the dressing: Mix the plum sauce and water together. Heat oil over low heat and add the plum sauce, sugar and salt. Cook until sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust accordingly.
3. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add fish slices and mix. Place fish in a separate platter and cover with cling wrap & place in fridge.
4. Drain the vegetables, spin dry or use kitchen paper towel to remove excess water. Mound vegetable decoratively in a circle around the platter.
5. Place fresh ginger, pickled ginger, pomelo, kaffir lime leaf, parsley in inner circle, leaving the middle of the platter for the fish.
6. Place white pepper & 5 spice powder in a red packet, ready for use.
7. You are now ready for lohei. You can simply sprinkle peanuts, sesame seeds, wonton crisps, white pepper & 5 spice powder and dressing over the ingredients and start tossing & lifting the ingredients as high as possible.
Alternatively, you could use the traditional method for tossing the raw fish salad.
TRADITIONAL TOSSING ORDER
1. Arrange julienne carrots, white radish (daikon) and green radish (or cucumber) attractively around the plate. You may include slivers of ginger, parsley, chilli, kaffir lime leaf, etc for additional flavour.
鴻運當頭 (Hoong Wan Dong Tou) = May you seize every opportunity.
Green radish or cucumber (youth)
青春常驻 (Cheng Chun Cheong Joy) = May you enjoy eternal youth
White radish or daikon (rising)
步步高升 (Bo Bo Ko Seng) = May every step take you higher
2. Gather all other ingredients in separate bowls and you are ready to start.
For each step, add the specified ingredient in the order below.
Say the associated greeting and explain its meaning to the participants.
Repeat the greeting and invite all participants to follow.
1. Gather at the table
恭喜发财 (Kung Hei Fatt Choy) = Wishing you wealth and prosperity.
All: KUNG HEI FATT CHOY
2. Add the fish (excess)
年年有馀 (Neen Neen Yau Yue) = Wishing you abundance every year.
All: NEEN NEEN YAU YUE
3. Add the pomelo or grapefruit (luck)
大吉大利 (Dai Cut Dai Lei) = May you have good luck and great profit.
All: DAI CUT DAI LEI
4. Sprinkle pepper & 5 spice powder (treasure)
招财进宝 (Chew Choy Churn Boh) = May you find wealth and treasures.
All: CHEW CHOY CHURN BOH
5. Pour the dressing (spreading action)
財原廣進(Choy Yuen Kong Churn) = May wealth flow in from all directions.
All: CHOY YUEN KONG CHURN
6. Sprinkle roasted peanut (gold)
金银满屋 (Kum Ngan Moon Oak) = May your house be filled with gold and silver.
All: KUM NGAN MOON OAK
7. Add sesame seeds (growth)
生意兴隆 (Sang Yee Heng Loong) = May your business flourish.
All: SANG YEE HENG LOONG
8. Add fried wonton crisps (gold ingots)
遍地黄金 (Peen Tei Wong Kum) = May you find gold everywhere.
All: PEEN TEI WONG KUM
9. Finally, invite everyone to join in to toss the salad an auspicious 7 times with loud shouts of “lo hei”.
捞起 (Lo Hei) = tossing up good fortune
The higher the toss, the greater the fortune.
All: LO HEI (repeat 7 times)
Note: Greeting is in Cantonese. Tossing order is adapted from: